Transport to school

While it is the parents' responsibility to secure their children's education, Inverclyde Council is happy to help you get your child of school age to school safely and on time. That is why school crossing patrols are provided, and we also operate a school transport policy which is more generous than the law requires. Indeed our home to school transport provision is amongst the most generous of any Scottish council.

We can provide free school transport if:

  • Your child lives more than one mile away from his/her local primary school (by the shortest safe walking route) when accompanied by a responsible adult.
  • Your child lives more than two miles away from his or her local secondary school (by the shortest safe walking route) when accompanied by a responsible adult.
  • Your child has been recommended on health grounds by a designated medical officer.
  • Your child has been assessed to attend a school to meet the requirements of his/her special needs. (These assessments involve education's psychological services who also recommend appropriate transport arrangements).
  • Your child has to walk a route, which after seeking advice from the road safety team, is considered by the education department to be unsafe for children.

What free school transport means

We work through Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) who engage the operators to provide free school transport.

The choice of the precise mode of transport depends on a variety of factors and is decided by Education Services after taking all circumstances into account.

This can result in the following:

  • Dedicated school contract bus (service solely for pupils)
  • Bus pass on local service bus (which can either be a commercial service or subsidised local service also carrying members of the public)
  • Train pass on service train
  • Taxi or private hired cars, minibuses and boats
  • Inverclyde Council's own school transport vehicles

Free transport normally covers one return journey to school in the morning and home at the end of the school day. No additional provision is made for home journeys for infants who may have a shorter day until September each year. Children not collected by parents are supervised until the end of the normal school day.

Parents of pupils wishing to return home for lunch have to make their own arrangements. Special arrangements are made locally where possible to cover pupils taking part in school activities after the end of the normal school day.

When to apply for free transport

If your child is starting primary school you should apply when you enrol him or her for school. If your child is going to secondary school you should apply by the end of April on his/her last year at primary school.

You can apply at a later time but there could be a delay while arrangements are being made.

Should you move house at anytime during the year a fresh application for transport should be made.

What happens after you apply?

You receive an acknowledgement within 5 working days upon receipt of your application. You will be informed by Education Services by letter of the outcome of your application. Staff at the office will be happy to discuss this or any other matter connected with your child’s application with you.

If your application relates to any child already attending school and it is successful, we aim to notify you of the arrangements before the end of June, although there can sometimes be a delay into the summer holiday period. If your child has been awarded school transport on the grounds of distance or safety, it is not necessary to reapply the following year as your child’s application is automatically renewed. However, should your child move house you are required to submit a fresh application. If your child was successful in obtaining a privilege pass you must reapply every year as the availability if seats on the vehicle varies from year to year.

Walking Distance

Shortest walking distance between your home and the local school, ie 1 mile for primary schools and 2 miles for secondary schools.

Privileged Passes

When it is possible, Education Services will endeavour to assist children who do not qualify for school transport by offering a privileged bus pass if there are spare seats on the vehicles dedicated for schools only. However, such places can be withdrawn at short notice should a child who is entitled to free transport require a seat on the bus. A charge of £1 per day will be invoiced monthly to parent/carer for each privilege pass provided. Charges for passes will also continue should a child be absent from school or have exam leave. A pass, if granted, will not be issued until September/October when the uptake of places by pupils entitled to transport is known.


If there is no reasonable safe walking distance between your home and the school, please note that we will make a decision after checking with the road safety team, who will base their assessment on the basis that each journey will be made in the company of a responsible adult.


Requests for transport on medical grounds to attend a catchment school should in the first instance be supported by a letter from your GP, which will then be referred to the Associate Specialist Community, Child Health.


If you wish to appeal against any decision made regarding your application for free school transport, you may do so by writing to the Director of Education Services who is responsible for school transport in your area at the address shown on the back of this form, indicating the grounds on which you wish to make your appeal.


We would ask you to encourage your child to behave properly and safely when boarding, travelling on the transport and alighting from it. As parents you are responsible for ensuring that your child arrives at the pick-up point on time.

Placing Requests

Please note that if your child attends a school by means of placing request, you are responsible for arranging transport to school. However, privileged passes be may available for certain schools.


In the interest of safety the transport provider may have discreet CCTV in operation on the vehicle and images may be recorded. Digital images may be taken from time to time by staff undertaking contract monitoring.

Good Behaviour

Misbehaviour could result in your child losing the right to free transport. The responsibility of ensuring safe and acceptable behaviour remains yours while your child is travelling in the vehicle provided.

In the case of misbehaviour, the driver may retain children's ticket/pass for the identification of pupils involved. The incident will then be reported to the driver's supervisor. Details will be sent to the head teacher and parents will be invited to an interview with the head teacher for assurance on their children's good conduct prior to the return of the 'free' travel pass. During this period parents/guardians will be responsible for making their own arrangements for the attendance of their child at school.

If you need to know more or wish to complain

If you have any enquiries about the eligibility of your child for transport please contact Education, Communities & Organisational Development at
email -  or
telephone - 712868.

Parents who have any concern or complaint on the provision of school transport may contact the school their child attends by telephone, giving the details which will then be recorded and submitted to the SPT. (Parents may also complain direct to SPT in writing to reinforce their concerns). The SPT will respond direct to parents and advise the school on the outcome of their investigations. SPT is responsible for placing primary and secondary school contracts and for the day-to-day operation. SPT actively monitors the performance of school transport contracts through the deployment of a team of specialist inspectors. To assist its monitoring, SPT welcomes the raising of any issues of concern by schools or by parents. SPT can be contacted at the address given under Contacts.

Strathclyde Partnership For Transport
Bus Agencies Manager, 131 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5JF  
Telephone: 0141 333 3108

Page last updated: 12 June 2019